Papadopoulos Was Approached By ‘Highly Suspicous’ Businessmen, His Wife Claims

Chuck Ross | Reporter
  • Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos was target of “suspicious” approaches, his wife claims
  • Simona Mangiante wonders if Papadopoulos was targeted for entrapment
  • A dossier source allegedly offered Papadopoulos $30,000 a month to work from inside Trump administration

In the wake of the revelation that an FBI informant lured George Papadopoulos to London during the 2016 campaign, the former Trump campaign adviser has grown skeptical of many of his contacts during and after the election, his wife says.

Papadopoulos’ contacts with the FBI informant — a former University of Cambridge professor named Stefan Halper — have been widely reported over the past several weeks. The 30-year-old Chicago native’s interactions with Joseph Mifsud and Alexander Downer, two diplomats who are key to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the election, are also well known. (RELATED: Papadopoulos’ Wife: Trump Aide Was ‘Absolutely Not Involved’ In Collusion)

Simona Mangiante, Papadopoulos’ wife, is now drawing attention to two other encounters that Papadopoulos has had over the past two years that she considers “highly suspicious.” One of those contacts offered to pay Papadopoulos $30,000 a month while he worked inside the Trump administration, she told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“It looks to be one among a series of attempts to entrap George,” Mangiante, a former attorney in the European Parliament, told TheDCNF. “The question today to me [is whether] these people are simply shady businessmen or are they part of a greater attempt to entrap George in illegal activity.”

One of the people who has raised red flags is Sergei Millian, a Belarus-born businessman who is alleged to be a major source for the infamous Steele dossier. Papadopoulos also had a mysterious encounter with an Israeli national on the Greek island of Mykonos, Mangiate, who married Papadopoulos in March, said.

TheDCNF has not found evidence that Millian or the Israeli national attempted to set up Papadopoulos. Neither responded to requests for comment.

Papadopoulos and Millian met for the first time at around the same time the FBI opened its counterintelligence investigation, code-named “Crossfire Hurricane,” TheDCNF has learned.

That probe started on July 31, 2016, reportedly based on information passed to the U.S. government by Downer, the Australian high commissioner to the U.K. Downer and Papadopoulos met at a London bar on May 10, 2016. There, Downer says Papadopoulos made reference to Russians having possession of information that would be damaging to then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Mangiante, an Italian national, confirmed to TheDCNF that Millian is the individual Papadopoulos described in a July 22, 2016 Facebook message that is cited in documents the special counsel’s office released in October.

“On or about July 22, 2016, PAPADOPOULOS messages Foreign Contact 2 on Facebook to ask whether Foreign Contact 2 knew a particular individual with extensive ties to Russian-based businesses and persons,” reads an affidavit released along with Papadopoulos’ guilty plea. “PAPADOPOULOS asked Foreign Contact 2 ‘[i]f you know any background of him that is noteworthy before I see him, kindly send my way.'” (RELATED: George Papadopoulos’s Fascinating Link To The Dossier)

Papadopoulos pleaded guilty on Oct. 5 to lying to the FBI during a January 2017 interview about the timing of his contacts with Mifsud, a Maltese professor and former diplomat. The pair met several times during the campaign.

The “Foreign Contact 2” referenced in the Facebook message is Ivan Timofeev, a Russian academic affiliated with a think tank with close links to the Kremlin. Timofeev and Papadopoulos met through Mifsud. Papadopoulos was told Timofeev had connections to the Russian Ministry of Affairs.

Papadopoulos and Millian met days after the July 22, 2016 Facebook message, said Mangiante, who has recently denied that Papadopoulos was engaged in collusion with Russians.

Mangiante also said that Papadopoulos and Millian met multiple times in Chicago and New York City before the election. In one encounter in Chicago, Millian offered Papadopoulos a substantial sum of money as part of an energy-related business deal.

The catch was that Millian said Papadopoulos would have to remain in the Trump administration while carrying out the work.

The business offer has been previously reported by The New York Times and NBC News. However, Mangiante is providing new details, saying that Millian offered Papadopoulos “$30,000 a month to work as a consultant while with Trump.” (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: A London Meeting Before The Election Stoked George Papadopoulos’s Suspicions)

“He refused, of course,” Mangiante said of Papadopoulos.

Though Millian is allegedly a source for the Steele dossier, it is unclear whether Papadopoulos is referenced in the 35-page report, which remains largely unverified.

Millian is reportedly the source for some of the salacious allegations in the dossier, which includes 17 separate reports dated from June 20, 2016 to Dec. 13, 2016. Millian was identified as both “Source D” and “Source E” in the dossier,  The Wall Street Journal reported on Jan. 24, 2017, three days before the FBI first interviewed Papadopoulos.

In the first report of the dossier, “Source D” alleged that the Kremlin was blackmailing now-President Donald Trump with video footage of him engaged with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room in 2013.

Another memo from late-July 2016 cites “Source E” as saying “that there was a well-developed conspiracy of co-operation between [the Trump campaign] and the Russian leadership.”

“Source E,” who claimed to have contacts in the Trump campaign, said that the operation was managed by Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, using Carter Page, a Trump campaign adviser, as a conduit to the Kremlin. The source also claimed that “the Russian regime had been behind the recent leak of embarrassing e-mail messages, emanating from the Democratic National Committee (DNC), to the WikiLeaks platform.” (RELATED: Kremlin Crony Met With Dossier Source At Russian Expo)

Both Page and Manafort have denied ever speaking to each other. Page vehemently denies allegations about him in the dossier. He has also said he had one or two brief interactions with Papadopoulos while on the campaign.

Millian, who runs an obscure trade group called the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce, has denied being a source for the dossier, though he has not addressed the possibility that his comments were passed to Christopher Steele without his knowledge. ABC News and other outlets have reported that Millian was an unwitting source for the dossier.

Millian has told TheDCNF that he was not present in Moscow for the 2013 incident discussed by “Source D.”

“It’s all garbage news,” he told TheDCNF in March, adding that he “was not in Moscow” during Trump’s 2013 trip.

Millian’s credibility has been called into question by some Trump associates, including longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen. Cohen has called Millian a “phony” who has falsely claimed to have links to Trump’s real estate business.

Glenn Simpson, the founder of the opposition research firm that hired Steele, has also reportedly expressed reservations about Millian’s link to the dossier.

“Had Millian made something up or repeated rumors he had heard from others to impress Steele’s collector? Simpson had his doubts. He considered Millian a big talker,” reads a passage from “Russian Roulette,” a recent book written by Michael Isikoff and David Corn, both of whom met with Simpson and Steele during the campaign.

Mangiante is also troubled by another “highly suspicious” Papadopoulos contact that she was witness to in 2017.

She said an Israeli national flew to Mykonos, the Greek island, to meet Papadopoulos last summer. There, the man invited Papadopoulos to Cyprus and Israel to discuss business. He offered Papadopoulos money, but he refused because he suspected entrapment, said Mangiante, who had just met Papadopoulos weeks before the incident.

Mangiante referenced the encounter in an interview Wednesday with CNN’s Jake Tapper, though without identifying the man. TheDCNF was unable to reach the Israeli for comment and is withholding his name since he has not been previously linked to Papadopoulos.

Papadopoulos was arrested by the FBI after flying back to the U.S. from that overseas trip. He soon began cooperating with the special counsel’s office.

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